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Health: Life Hacks – Study Tricks

Posted October 17, 2012 by Ann Cronin in Lifestyle

Being up to my eyeballs in study at the moment means I’m employing as many of the tricks of my trade as I can when I’m trying to learn. The poor learning strategies that people use still amaze me, such as learning by rote, or spending hours reading without a pen in hand.

We mentioned earlier that we receive feedback from our body about what’s going on, and if you are alert then your brain kicks it up a notch. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your study session.



If I told you I was about to tell you the most important thing you’ve ever heard in your life, you’d sit up! If you want to take in new information it starts kinesthetically. Sit up, straighten your back. Even if you don’t feel alert, position your body so you seem alert.


Pen in hand, paper at the ready. There is NOTHING to be gained from reading and reading and reading. You are merely prolonging the agony; you will have to go back over it all again. So do it right the first time. We learn not just through reading, but writing also. The more modalities you use to learn, the better.


Take your highlighting pen and throw it out the window. If I have to open one more book where every line is coloured in by some demented highlighter obsessive, I may hulk out. Highlighting does nothing but colour in. By highlighting, you are wasting time. You will still have to go back again and make notes, so just forget about it.


Take breaks EVERY 20 minutes to begin with, then every 40 minutes once you’ve practiced studying for a while. During the break, change tack, do something different. Have your 10 minutes of tweeting/talking/gallivanting. The important thing is to use other senses, so less reading and more drinking tea! The break is not just physical; its mental. There’s a decline in your attention to the point where you’re taking in very little new information; it’s why most classes are 40 minutes long (most poor teachers will drone on indefinitely and leave you thinking ‘what was that all about’ at the end of a very long lecture).


Learn to take efficient notes. I personally swear by mind maps; I’ve been using them for years and find them a great way to build up links between different theories and ideas to create a mental map of how subjects are related.


Read difficult stuff out loud. Better still, record it and listen back. You know when you read something difficult and you find yourself involuntarily reading it aloud? It’s because your brain has made reading silent through practice, but when you come across something difficult it has to employ more modalities to understand it, so aural (hearing) comes into play (in my case, I have to use my fingers to do hard sums and my boyfriend makes fun of me).


I have a few more of these tricks up my sleeve, but I will keep this short and sweet today, to maximize the chances of you retaining it! I’ll be back with more wondrous keys to your wonderful brain soon.


Featured Image ©2012 College Degrees 360 and used under a Creative Commons licence.

About the Author

Ann Cronin

  • http://www.lisamcinerney.com Lisa McInerney

    Not that I’m studying for anything apart from being even more awesome, but… *stops slouching over desk*

  • http://twitter.com/jennyfoxe Jenny Foxe

    I always found it useful to take a note of three key points about every subject, no more than two lines long with bullet points. If I could remember three facts I could write an essay answer.

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